Spotted Thick-knee

Burhinus capensis

The Spotted Thick-knee, or Spotted Dikkop, prefers open habitats, including fynbos, semi-arid scrublands, grasslands and savanna, but has adapted well to agricultural and urban environments and is often seen in fields, parks and gardens – at night their shrill call has become a familiar sound in our suburbs. They are mostly nocturnal in habit and feed primarily on insects and other invertebrates. Adults weigh around 500g with a wingspan of about 80cm.

Pairs of Spotted Think-knees are monogamous and solitary nesters, although they could assemble in groups of up to 50 outside the breeding season. Their nests are little more than a scrape in the ground, often out in the open but more usually in the shade of a bush or tree, and camouflaged with a few pieces of plants or pebbles, in which a clutch of 1-3 (usually 2) splendidly camouflaged eggs are laid. The parents take turns to incubate the eggs over a period of 4 weeks, and the chicks leave the nest within a day of hatching to move around with their parents. The chicks fledge at about 2 months old. Spotted Thick-knees breed through spring and summer and pairs can raise as many as three broods in a season.

Spotted Thick-knees occur over much of sub-Saharan African, being absent only from the equatorial forests, and is listed as being of least concern by the IUCN. In South Africa they occur over the entire country.


26 thoughts on “Spotted Thick-knee

    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      They are expert at camouflage, Kim, and quite common even in urban settings, though apparently not at their highest densities in your part of KZN according to the SABAP distribution map. You may have walked past one in your garden and not even know it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. travel460

        Ek lê baie nagte en wonder watse voël skree so in die donker, was onder die indruk dat alle voëls net dagdiere is. Ook maar lekker stupid, soos ons sal sê. Gou hier rond uitgevra, en gehoor hulle is volop by ons. Dankie vir die inligting, De Wet, nou sal ek weet wat maak my soms wakker.

        Liked by 1 person

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